Optimal electrocardiographic pulsing windows and heart rate: Effect on image quality and radiation exposure at dual-source coronary CT angiography
Purpose: To determine the optimal width and timing of the electrocardiographic (ECG) pulsing window within the cardiac cycle in relation to heart rate (HR), image quality, and radiation exposure in patients who are suspected of having coronary artery disease. Materials and Methods: The institutional review board approved the study, and all patients gave informed consent. Dual-source computed tomography (CT) was performed in 301 patients (mean HR, 70.1 beats per minute ± 13.3 [standard deviation]; range, 43-112 beats per minute) by using a wide ECG pulsing window (25%-70% of the R-R interval). Data sets were reconstructed in 5% steps from 20%-75% of R-R interval. Image quality was assessed by two observers on a per-segment level and was classified as good or impaired. High-quality data sets were those in which each segment was of good quality. The width and timing of the image reconstruction window was calculated. On the basis of these findings, an optimal HR-dependent ECG pulsing protocol was designed, and the potential dose-saving effect on effective dose (in millisieverts) was calculated. Results: At low HR (≤65 beats per minute), high-quality data sets were obtained during end diastole (ED); at high HR (≥80 beats per minute), they were obtained during end systole (ES); and at intermediate HR (66-79 beats per minute), they were obtained during both ES and ED. Optimal ECG pulsing windows for low, intermediate, and high HR were at 60%-76%, 30%-77%, and 31%-47% of the R-R interval, respectively, and with these levels, the effective dose was decreased at low HR from 18.7 to 6.8 mSv, at intermediate HR from 14.7 to 13.4 mSv, and at high HR from 11.3 to 4.2 mSv. Conclusion: With optimal ECG pulsing, radiation exposure to patients, particularly those with low or high HR, can be reduced with preservation of image quality.